As you research colleges and universities and consider their admissions requirements, you’ll inevitably notice that many schools require you to submit your SAT scores as part of your application. Admissions staff often consider your standardized test scores to confirm your GPA or to determine whether you demonstrate strengths beyond what your high school transcripts can reveal. And according to the College Board, which administers the SAT, the exam specifically assesses the knowledge you’ve learned in reading, writing, and math—skills that also help measure how prepared you are for college and career.
Given its purpose, it’s no wonder that colleges and universities have been requiring the SAT for decades. But as you peruse school websites and the brochures you collected at college fairs, you might also notice a term pop up when it comes to SAT scores: test optional. But what does test optional mean? Is taking the SAT itself optional, or does it mean submitting your scores is optional? Are standardized tests optional for every applicant or just specific individuals? And is the SAT optional in reality, or are students who submit their scores secretly more likely to be admitted than those who don’t?
Here’s what you need to know so you can decide whether the SAT should be part of your college application process.